Cardinal Turkson: Today's Wars Won't Bring Future Peace

Justice, Peace Council President Stresses Role of Religions in Reconciliation

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BERLIN, Germany, NOV. 29, 2010 ( The wars of today will not lead to the peace of tomorrow, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

This was affirmed by Cardinal Peter Turkson in an address at a congress of the German Bishops’ Conference Commission for Justice and Peace.

The congress, which began Thursday and ended Saturday in Berlin, focused on the theme, «Wars of Today, Peace of Tomorrow.»

«It is becoming increasingly clear, especially in today’s world, how a seemingly ‘small’ and ‘local’ conflict can trigger ‘global’ consequences,» the prelate observed.

He noted that «war and peace originate in the heart of man, and it’s impossible to have a divided heart.»

«So, war, to some extent, affects everyone, and peace concerns everyone,» the cardinal stated.

Sometimes, he acknowledged, «it seems that we have to accept conflict as a dimension at every level, the personal and interpersonal as well as on the local and global.»

«But we know that this is not true,» Cardinal Turkson added. «Certainly, man may experience an inner battle, but conflict cannot be a philosophy of life, or the hermeneutical key of reality.»

God’s grace

He continued: «Jesus brought a change, he renewed everything; he made God’s grace visible in order to bring peace into the history of every human being and of all humanity.

«Man is not called to hate himself and his neighbor but to love his neighbor as himself.»

The prelate affirmed that «religion in general and the great religions represent an extraordinary factor of unity and peace for peoples.»

«It’s no accident that religious actors are gaining increasing importance in building peace not only as a feeling or state of mind, but as a concrete commitment in the mediation of conflicts,» he noted.

The cardinal highlighted «the role of religious leaders and faith-based organizations that contribute significantly in conflict resolution by consolidating peace, through the restoration of order after the chaos of war.»

«This becomes possible,» he added, «when in truth and reconciliation warring and hostile groups look toward the future with a reconciled heart.»

«We know how difficult and painful this is, but it is possible and necessary,» Cardinal Turkson stated.

He noted that «throughout the world, different attempts have been made to create Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, through which the power of religion to heal and to repair is invoked to redress past wrongs and the effects of war.»

Personal warfare

The prelate added that it is the «potent tool of religion» that «makes the equation.»

He underlined the «capacity of religions to prescribe, to stimulate and to encourage a warfare within their adherents which leads to peace within and without.»

«The form that this warfare takes in the religious traditions is abstinence/fasting and various forms of continence and self-control,» the cardinal explained, «and it is a war waged on one’s instincts, inordinate desires, egoism, etc.»

He added, «The real warfare for peace should be waged within our hearts: within the hearts of men.»

Cardinal Turkson urged, «We need to recognize that the wars and conflicts in our day, whatever their nature and character: be they interior or exterior, spiritual or material, even in their extreme and tragic forms of degenerating into armed (nuclear) conflict, may never impose limits on our desire and reaching out towards the ideal state of peace.»

«This desire and aspiration are not mere wishes,» he said. «They must be the duty of all towards all: to desire and to seek after peace.»

«Starting today, in a world not yet at peace, all men of good will, especially Christians, are called to be peacemakers, to cultivate dialogue and the meeting of civilizations, to witness the love of God’s children precisely by yearning for peace for the future generations,» the prelate said.

«In this way,» he concluded, «the love of God, who renews everything, can become incarnate and transform the present and the future of mankind, while waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ, true love and true peace.»

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